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SYP Scotland Conference Ctrl Alt Refresh: Key Events

By Elizabeth Oladoyin

During this time of political and social unrest, and with an invigorated push from prominent members of the publishing community for less pacifying sentiments and more substantive changes, the instinct to hit CTRL ALT and DELETE on antiquated rules and barriers is understandable. However, the Ctrl Alt Refresh conference encouraged attendees to resist reinventing the wheel and instead aim to refresh outdated aspects of the industry.


In issue 19 we bought you the lowdown on putting the conference together, but now we review the events for those who missed them!


One of the key threads that ran through several of the panels were issues related to diversity and inclusion. Even panels that were not explicitly related to the topics spoke at length on the issue – and for good reason.


IRL URL


During this panel publishing hopefuls gained insight into how common industry practices have been forever changed by new initiatives prompted by the COVID-19.


This panel highlighted how these changes have improved aspects of the industry and why they may be continually used due to their ability to provide further inclusion for those who experienced difficulty partaking in these events in the past.


Dear Publishing and With Best Regards


This segment of the conference consisted of a sequence of pre-recorded open letters where those in and around the publishing industry could address any concerns or misunderstandings they had about the publishing process. These concerns were later answered within Dear Publishing’s sister panel, With Best Regards, by other publishing professionals. Jeda Pearl Lewis and Dean Atta, co-directors of Scottish BAME Writers Network, particularly stood out within this panel due to their timely questions regarding the issues of diversity and race that have long been an unaddressed issue within the publishing industry.


Sharing the Password


Within this panel topical issues ranging from #publishingpaidme tweets from BAME authors, increased opportunities for those with various socio-cultural disadvantages, better access for disabled publishing hopefuls and increased recognition of LGBTQIA+ identities were discussed. The existing socio-cultural disparities in the industry, as reflected by the poor representation within the industry and books produced, were discussed alongside helpful suggestions on quantifiable changes that should be made to improve the industry’s ability to be inclusive.


World Wide Web


This panel was particularly useful for gaining an international view on the effect that both COVID-19 and Brexit have had on the relationship between British publishing houses and their international counterparts. Panellists and attendees at this panel discussed changes in processes that were required due to travel restrictions imposed by these two significant events. The added advantage of increased inclusivity for individuals across the globe who may previously have experienced a high barrier of entry partaking in publishing related topics was thoroughly discussed.


Many of the organised panels diverted away from typical topics surrounding editorial and trade in favour of alternative insights into the other aspects of the industry that are not often discussed, as demonstrated by:


Alt. Routes


Here, panel attendees discussed alternative routes into the publishing industry that diverted from the traditional path which often consisted of gaining a publishing-related degree and undertaking an unpaid publishing-related internship. Instead this panel focused on the unique insights that could be gained from those whose career pathways diverted from the norm and whose far-reaching experiences could provide vibrancy in the rich tapestry that is the publishing industry.


The Lockdown Issue


In a sea of book-related publishing content, it was refreshing to see a segment dedicated to magazine publishing. Having already been on the cusp of collapse prior to restrictions enforced as a precaution to COVID-19, due to declining sales in print media, recent events have been extremely detrimental. This panel provided important takeaways on how magazine teams have adapted themselves during these turbulent times.


More Than (Trade) Words


During this panel, aspects of the publishing industry that extended past trade publishing and consumer interests were discussed. This included lesser-known facets such as academic and educational publishing and roles that varied from distribution to rights. The panel was really helpful in providing insights into these lesser-known aspects of the publishing industry for publishing hopefuls who may previously not have been aware of them.


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The decline in brick-and-mortar bookstores in favour of online retailers such as Amazon has increased discussions, which have only been accelerated by COVID-19, on their viability. Despite this, the panel discussed the continued importance of booksellers as the backbone of the book community, how indie bookshops have managed recent changes and their suggestions on how publishers can support bookshops during this difficult time.


Overall, the conference provided a well-structured and wide-ranging view into how recent changes to the political and social environments have impacted the publishing industry, thus providing hopefuls and future professionals with some preliminary considerations before entering the industry.

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